February 12, 2013
Ralph Krueger will do what he feels is best for Oilers

Ryan Smyth is one of the most popular players with Edmonton Oilers fans. Benching him was a hockey decision, says Ralph Krueger. (Perry Nelson, Edmonton Sun)

It’s like benching Lassie.

Nobody’s worked harder for the Edmonton Oilers, nobody’s bled, cried or cared more for the franchise than Ryan Smyth.

If anyone deserves a break, a little slack, it’s him.

The fact he didn’t get it, and that one of the most loyal and beloved players in the club’s storied history was a healthy scratch Tuesday, tells you all you need to know about Ralph Krueger.

The new sheriff in town is here to win games, not friends.

“It is extremely important for us to establish that, very clearly, this is not about feelings and it’s not about doing the things that people like,” said the first-year NHL head coach, in explaining why Smyth, who hadn’t been banished to the press box as an Oiler since his rookie season in 1995, sat out against Dallas.

“It’s about doing everything possible to create a winning culture here in Edmonton.”

So while it’s difficult telling a player with Smyth’s heart and history that he’s sitting out a hom